The Election Commission (EC) has issued a warning to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) against asking voters to take money from the BJP and the Congress, but vote for the party. The EC, in its warning addressed to AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal last week, has said the party’s message to the voters amounts to encouraging bribery of electors, which is unacceptable.
Voter bribery is a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act.
The Commission’s warning comes in the wake of BJP’s complaint that AAP was distributing pamphlets in slum areas asking people to vote for the party, even if they accept money from the BJP and Congress. The complaint was lodged on April 29 by BJP leaders Vijender Gupta and Arti Mehra.
A showcause notice was issued to Kejriwal, in his capacity as party convenor, earlier this month, asking AAP to explain its stand on the issue.
Kejriwal is learnt to have defended the pamphlet’s message, saying that it is intended to curb bribery as it advises electors not to vote for the party that gives them money. This defence was found to be unsatisfactory, said an official, who did not wish to be identified.
The EC has censured Kejriwal twice for making such remarks earlier — once in 2015 during the campaign for the Delhi Assembly polls, and during Assembly polls in Goa. In January 2017, it warned that action would be taken against him if he repeats such remarks in the future.
In March, 2019, the EC had assured the Delhi HC that it will not take any coercive action against Kejriwal, pending his response. The EC’s submission had come following Kejriwal’s application that no action be taken against him without hearing his version.
AAP did not respond to calls seeking a comment.